Thursday, 4 April 2013

Chashme Buddoor (1981) Review by Shivom Oza – Don’t Call It ‘OLD’!

4/5 Stars

“The word classic means something that is a perfect example of a particular style, something of lasting worth or with a timeless quality”, says the dictionary. We often mistake most old films to be ‘classics’. However, the ‘something of lasting worth or with a timeless quality’ prerequisite seldom gets fulfilled.

Sai Paranjpye’s ‘Chashme Buddoor’ (1981) is one such film, which satisfies all the aforementioned parameters.

The film, which kind of embodied all genres – romance, comedy, drama, tragedy, satire and a bit of action, is what you would call in today’s lingo a ‘full-blown masala entertainer’. Although the songs do slow it down a trifle, the dialogues, performances and the writing make ‘Chashme Buddoor’ a must, must watch!

Siddharth (Farooq Shaikh), Omi (Rakesh Bedi) and Jai (Ravi Baswani) are three Delhi University students, staying together in a rented flat. While Siddharth is the studious one and spends most of his time reading books, Omi and Jai are absolutely ‘good-for-nothing’. They spend all their time chasing girls and fooling around! However, the three friends share one common interest – smoking cigarettes! They buy borrow their cigarette stock from a local shopkeeper, Lallan Miyan (Saeed Jaffrey) and never pay up, much to the old man’s chagrin!

This ‘uncomfortable’ camaraderie goes on until the three friends end up falling for the same girl – Neha Rajan (Deepti Naval) aka ‘Miss Chamko’!

The film encapsulates everything that was ‘cool’ about India during the 80s. Right from the language to the lifestyle to the behaviour, there was a good mix of the innocent and the liberal (and sometimes, the rebellious). The three main characters, played by Shaikh, Bedi and Baswani, are witty and wicked in equal measure. All the three actors manage to hold their own. While Baswani plays the foolish, crooked Jai to the hilt, Bedi shows that he is a genius when it comes to comic timing. Farooq, despite not getting to play one of the ‘funny’ guys, ends up creating his own niche of humour with his wide range of expressions and reactions. Deepti Naval had to play ‘hard-to-get’, ‘madly-in-love’, ‘damsel-in-distress’, ‘plain-Jane’, ‘glam-doll’ and what not, in the same film, and she brings out her best for this (still-memorable) character of ‘Miss Chamko’. Some of the sequences in the film are beyond brilliant, right from the opening credits to Omi and Jai’s futile wooing to Miss Chamko’s detergent powder demonstration to the light-hearted banter between the leads and Lallan Miyaan. Leena Mishra’s cameo as the grandmother is absolutely delightful.

The best part about the film is that it’s not the nostalgia which will make you smile. The humour is such that it would have worked even in 2013. So, you wouldn’t necessarily laugh because you got reminded of a certain era. You would laugh because you found the scene really funny!

The music of the film by Raj Kamal is the only aspect which may not work for today’s audience. Most songs do slow down the film. The songs are good, but in isolation and not within the screenplay. One song that really goes with the theme of the film is ‘Pyar Lagawat’.

Other notable aspects of the film include the terrific parody featuring Baswani and Naval, Amitabh Bachchan-Rekha cameo and the amazing restoration work done on the film.

Sai Paranjpye’s genius is written all over ‘Chashme Buddoor’. It’s a must watch (on the BIG screen)!

Shivom Oza

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